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The joint is out of time

Ralph Fiennes makes a romantic, febrile Dane in Jonathan Kent's much-hyped production of Hamlet at the Hackney Empire.

Played in Edwardian dress against towering doors and shutters, shafts of light streaming in the gloom, this is a production which has a period feel in keeping with its Victorian surroundings.

Fiennes sets a hurtling pace, rattling through "To be or not to be . . ." in Ophelia's presence and hastily setting chairs for the audience of the play-within-the-play while giving his famous acting hints. His is a Hamlet which will not disappoint the fans, although the screen charisma is less in evidence at a distance.

Among the supporting cast, Peter Eyre is a Polonius at once bumbling and politically astute and Francesca Annis adds much-needed tension with her sexually spirited Gertrude.

To March 30. Running time 3hours 10 minutes. Tickets: 0171 312 1995.

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